As the Town Council and others are aware, Joe and I have had contention with the fact that ordinances have not been upheld; specifically those relating to housing condemnation.
The Town of White Springs has condemned certain properties which have not been demolished to date. It does not affect me personally but it very well may affect the Town of White Springs. By condemning property and not following through, the Town of White Springs would be liable for claims for injuries or damage to third parties, whether an invitee, or a vagrant and especially to children, whether or not there are no trespassing signs.
A Child trespasser has protection by law has protection under the “Attractive Nuisance Doctrine. If you know of a condition where children are likely to trespass and that condition involves unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily harm to children, children because of their age will not realize the condition as being dangerous. Therefore, its removal (like demolition of property) outweighs the burden of the possibility of harm to children. Should you fail to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the danger or otherwise protect children, you are liable to the full extent of the law. Under those conditions, not only would the person owning the condemned property be liable but also the Town of White Springs because they condemned the property in the first place and did not have the property demolished.
It does not matter to me whether or not the Town Council elects to comply with such ordinances or to remove them in their entirety. What matters is the liability which may be imputed to the Town of White Springs because of non-compliance of such ordinances.
It is my suggestion that a compromise be reached which would protect the Town from such liability.
For those properties which are in dire condition or which have been condemned years prior, it is my suggestion that our City Attorney draft an agreement/permit (to allow the Owner(s) who wish to retain retain their condemned property but require that it be repaired or demolished within a specific time because of its in its present condition)between the Town of White Springs and the Owner(s) of the said condemned property. There should also be an annual fee involved for such allowance plus the following:
Such agreement would require that the Owner(s) carry a $1,000,000 combined single limit of Bodily Injury and Property Damage whether through an Owners’ Landlords’ and Tenants’ liability policy or a combination of Homeowners Liability and Umbrella Liability insurance if it is available. Such liability insurance for the owner would have to provide contractual liability insurance. Along with the liability insurance, the owner(s) would be required to provide the Town of White Springs with evidence of such liability coverage in the form of a Certificate of Insurance. Additionally the Town of White Springs would be held harmless from any such damages or injury by contractual agreement between the parties and the Town of White Springs, its mayor, council members, agents, employees and their successors or assigns would be added under the owner(s)’ policies as Additional Insureds. A suggested endorsement follows.
“ADDITIONAL INSURED – STATE OR POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS – PERMITS:
This endorsement lists the state or political subdivision as an insured with the insurance applying with respect to the operations performed by you or on your behalf for which the state or political subdivision has issued a permit. The insurance does not apply to bodily injury or damage arising OUT OF THE THE OPERATIONS PERFORMED FOR THE State or Municipality or for injury or damage included in the products-completed operations hazard.”
Of course, some municipalities may draft their own agreement rather than one which is standardized by the insurance industry. The problem, of course, may be that the Owner(s) of such condemned properties may not be able to get their insurance company to issue the endorsement without insurer’s legal council’s involvement and additional costs. If the Owners cannot comply, then they should be required to repair or demolish said property.
If an Owner of such condemned property is required to carry such insurance, the loss control department of an insurer would require specific loss control measures which would require adherence (i.e. boarding up windows; checking on the property bi-weekly, etc.). If such compliance is not met, of course, the owner(s)’ and the Town of White Springs et al, would receive notice of such cancellation of the liability insurance required under contract or permit. At that time, it would have to be decided that the property be demolished by an approved contractor with the appropriate insurance who likewise would have to include the Town of White Springs and the Owners’ as additional insurance for the work performed including completed operations.
I believe this is a fair alternative. Many have stated that individuals such as I or Joe, dislike the Town of White Springs because I have brought suits relating to non-adherence of ordinances. Yet, if one really looks into the matter, you will find that perhaps I love the Town of White Springs far more than those prior and currently running the Town. I love where I live but do not wish our Town to be broke because a child is hurt under an Attractive Nuisance law or because a third party is injured or dies because of the non-compliance of condemned property. Most commercial liability policies include incidental contractual liability automatically for an obligation, as required by ordinance, to indemnify a municipality, except that it does not include performing work for a municipality (products-completed operations hazards)
So rather than making a decision that my actions are futile, consider the possibility that the Town of White Springs be protected by providing defense and attorney’s fees under an Owner(s)’ of a condemnation or dangerous propensity covered by a Liability policy..
Karin for the blog